Bendigo mosque opponents lose bid

A LEGAL bid to stop a mosque being built in the Victorian city of Bendigo has been rejected by the state's highest court.

Bendigo residents Julie Hoskin and Kathleen Howard had sought leave to appeal against the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal's decision to uphold the local council's planning approval for the mosque, Bendigo's first, in August.

The pair argued the mosque would bring negative social and economic effects to Bendigo.

The court heard 254 objections had been lodged by residents.

The judges on the Court of Appeal ruled the Charter of Human Rights protected freedom of religion, adding that people practising their religion could not be considered to be an adverse social effect.

They said the objectors' concerns were "overstated and unfounded".

Lawyers for the Australian Islamic Mission said in a statement: "The wider Bendigo community has shown strength and resilience and we are so appreciative of the heart-warming support we received. We would especially like to thank the Bendigo Council for holding on to the great Australian values of equality, democracy and a fair go for all."

The residents, who have not ruled out further legal action, may be ordered to pay costs.

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